Bailing Lifts Safely

We all want to get stronger and lift heavier and heavier weights, right? Of course! In order to do that, we have to do what’s called threshold training- occasionally pushing the limits of our strength to progress what we are capable of training.  When we train at our strength threshold, sometimes the weights will be too heavy for us to lift for the reps we want! This is normal and even optimal for strength gains.  

To do this safely and avoid injuries, we need to be able to fail, or bail out of lifts, safely, and also feel confident doing it. 

A few things to remember when we are working with strength threshold training:

  1. Here at Loco, make sure that you have at least 15 pound plates on the barbell if you bail a lift. 10 pound plates are too thin to drop and may be damaged, or even worse, bounce improperly right back into you and cause injury!
  2. Make sure you have clips on the outsides of your weights so the plates don’t fall everywhere.
  3. NEVER drop an empty barbell- if you can’t lift it with no plates on it, use a lighter barbell!

In general, whether you are pulling the bar in a deadlift, squatting with the bar in front or on your back, or pushing the barbell overhead, the rule is to let go and get out of the way.

In a deadlift- if you get stuck just off the ground or just at the knees and the bar doesn’t go further- let go and step backwards!

In a back squat, normally we get to the bottom and can’t come up again.  To bail it:

  1. Drop a knee to the floor.
  2. Lift your chest, let go of the bar while pushing it behind you, and stand up.
  3. Let the barbell fall behind you and get out of the way

In an overhead movement like a jerk or a snatch:

  • If the bar is in front of you, let go and step back away from it
  • If the bar is behind you, let go and step forward away from it

Notice the theme – when in doubt, push the bar in the opposite direction that you move your body to ensure you are nowhere near the bar as gravity pulls it back down.

It’s that simple! Let’s get out there and lift heavy knowing we can bail safely.


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